Sunday, May 13, 2012

Law First, Then Economics

Most people are never going to understand economics. For one thing, the mean average IQ is 100, so people with that IQ -- and those with less-than-average -- are never going to understand it.

I suspect to truly understand economics you have to have an IQ of at least 120, which is less than 10% of the population. Of those, some have no interest. Others have no character, and fall for Keynesianism.

Those who fall for Keynesianism believe they are so morally and intellectually superior they believe their economics models can run a country of 300 million people. Anyone who believes that is a loon (obviously, "intelligence" is no guarantee of character).

I tell people that those who have the least understanding of economics are Ph.D.s, and those who don't understand it at all are Ph.Ds. from Harvard, Yale and Princeton. I like to use the twitchy semi-autistic geek Paul Krugman as an example.

So how did this country become so rich, when so few people understand how economics really works?

Because of law. The law comes first, then economics comes second.

I don't mean complex law. I mean simple law, which originally was based on religion.

Richard Maybury, all of whose books I recommend, pointed out that all successful societies are based on two basic laws: "Do all that you have agreed to do" (which is the basis of contract law) and "Do not encroach on others or their property" (which is the basis of tort law).

Those two laws were originally religious laws. Let's take the Ten Commandments (which is the wrong translation -- it's really Ten Words or Ten Utterances). "Do not lie" really means "Do all that you have agreed to do" and "Do not murder" and "Do not steal" really means "Do not encroach on others or their property."

These laws are so simple that everyone understands them. People in fact instinctively understand, which means it's inborn in us. Try to be unfair to a small child and he will immediately protest.

And what is amazing about these simple laws is that when they are followed the free market springs up. In other words, freedom and liberty automatically leads to wealth. Conversely, the expansion of the State (the opposite of freedom and liberty) automatically leads to poverty and oppression.

Back during the days of the War of Independence economics was just getting started (Adam Smith didn't publish Wealth of Nations until 1776). Unfortunately, in some ways, it's gone way backwards.

But it was noticed that when those two simple laws were followed, material wealth followed. And it was based, of course, on people having a good character, i.e., not stealing, being honest, not murdering.

Economics does not exist by itself. It is connected to Political Science and Law and Religion (those who think we are going to get rid of religion, and liberty and freedom can survive without it, are deluding themselves).

By religion I do not mean modern-day whackjobs such as Christian Zionists or the "Washed in the blood of the lamb" frauds. I mean someone like Jonathan Mayhew, whose sermons during early America had a profound effect on the populace.

He pointed out in such sermons as "A Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers" that governments which don't follow the right laws are illegitimate, and no one has to follow them. Mayhew said people could obey their government’s law (England’s law), or their God’s law, but they couldn’t do both, because their government’s law violated God’s law.

John Adams said that Mayhew's sermon was actually the beginning of the American Revolution.

When's the last time you heard any minister say anything like that? I never have, not once in my entire life. In fact, I'm sure almost all ministers have never heard of Mayhew.

If people actually understood and followed the simple laws on which successful societies are based, even if they have average or below average IQs, then the study of economics can be left to those who are truly interested in it.

1 comment:

FSK said...

You might like my blog.

Two interesting bits are the Compound Interest Paradox and "Taxation is theft!"